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Yar’Adua: The Politics, The Debate

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Many people are worried about the president’s absence which is already having negative effect on state matters. The new President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Isa Salami, and Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Katsina Alu were supposed to be sworn-in by the president after the confirmation of their appointments by the Senate.

Also, the annual National Merit Award list which was due at the end of last year, was also delayed due to the absence of the president.

Apart from this, the National Assembly last November, passed the N353.6 billion supplementary budget, which includes capital spending of about N253 billion. Part of the money is for the rehabilitation of the ex-militants and other post amnesty intervention programmes in the Niger Delta.

However, when it became apparent that the nation may not have a substantive chief justice, the Minister of Justice, Michael Aondoakaa, had to come out and state that the out-going chief justice Idris Kutigi could perform the swearing in on behalf of the president.

Despite protest from some lawyers and civil rights activities; Kutigi had justified the action by saying that the Oath Act of 2004 provides for the swearing-in of the CJN, justices of the Supreme Court, president of the Court of Appeal and justices of the Court of Appeal, among others by the president or the CJN.

Surprisely, Barrister Ibimina Kelechi a legal practitioner based in Port Harcourt, never concurred with this argument, as he said he had already proceeded to the Federal High Court, Abuja to fault the swearing-in of the CJN.

According to him, with the swearing-in of Justice Alloysius Katsina-Alu as the CJN, a constitutional vacuum has been created. Kelechi said, “Nigeria political and constitutional history would never be the same again.”

But Hon. Justice C.J. Okocha does not seem to agree with his learned colleague, as he said the swearing-in and the administration of oath on Justice Katsina-Alu was in order.

Okocha also the former president of NBA admitted that the out gone CJN does not lack the power to administer oath on the present CJN, but noted that there would have been chaos if one arm of government did not have a leadership.

In spite this development, controversies have continued to trail all the executive functions performed in the absence of the president, for example, the off-shore signing of the supplementary budget by the President ran into the fire storm of public discourse. Some were skeptical over whether it was true that Yar’Adua actually signed the budget, whether or not the signature on the N353.6 billion supplementary budget was that of President Umaru Yar’Adua.

A release from the Presidency had stated that the president actually signed the budget in the hospital in Saudi Arabia, five weeks after it was passed by the National Assembly.

Some were cynical whether it was true that his Principal Secretary, David Edebvie, actually took the budget to him in Saudi-Arabia. The pen with which President Yar’Adua allegedly signed the off-shore supplementary budget hardly dried up before the Ijaw National Congress (INC) called for the photograph of the President in action as usual or the signature for forensic verification.

However, the Attorney-general of the Federation, Chief Michael Kaase Aondoakaa (SAN), while contributing to the debate said that President Umaru Yar’Adua “can perform his functions as President from any where in the world”.

According to him, Yar’Adua was not suffering from infirmity of body or mind as to render him permanently incapable of discharging the functions of his office from any where in the world. He noted that the Federal Executive Council, (FEC) which is a creation of the Nigerian constitution, had on December, 2 invoked its powers under section 144 (1) (a) of the 1999 constitution to pass a resolution and declared Yar’Adua fit to continue in governance.

The minister argued that there was no need for Yar’Adua to inform the National Assembly on exercising the functions of his office through the vice president and his ministers as enshrined in section (5) (1) and section 148 (1) of the 1999 Constitution.

Section 5(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria reads: “subject to the provisions of this constitution, the executive powers of the federation

(a)        shall be vested in the president and may subject as aforesaid and to the provisions of any law made by the National Assembly be exercised by him either directly or through the vice president and ministers of the government of the federation or officers in the public service of the federation and (b) shall extend to the execution and maintenance of this constitution, all laws made by the National Assembly and to all manners has, for the time being power to make laws, section 148 (1) of the 1999 constitution also reads:

(b)        (1) The president may, in his discretion, assign to the vice president or any minister of government of the federation responsibility for any business of the government of the federation including the administration of any department of government. According to him, Yar’Adua has since been delegating the powers of his office to members of the FEC including the vice president.

He said the call by some Nigerians and the reliefs being sought in the pending suits before the court to compel the president to either resign his office or inform the National Assembly of his ill-health to allow Jonathan take over as acting president were unnecessary. The suit was filed by Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana. Aondoakaa argued that in the first place, the case of Yar’Adua’s health was not all that bad to necessitate the invocation of section 145 of the 1999 Constitution.

He said assuming without conceding that it was that bad, the invocation of the provision of section 145, which is one of the principal reliefs being sought by Falana is discretionary.

The section 145 of the 1999 Constitution reads: “whenever the president transmits to the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives a written declaration that he is proceeding on vacation or that he is otherwise unable to discharge the functions, such functions shall be discharged by the vice president as acting president.”

But a right group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has petitioned the UN Human Rights Council (UNRC), requesting the body to urgently consider the deteriorating economic and social rights situation in Nigeria due to President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s prolonged absence from duty, and his failure to empower the Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, to act as president to sign and effectively implement the 2009 supplementary budget, and the budget for 2010.

The petition dated 3 January 2010 and signed by SERAP’s Executive Director, Adekunbo Mumuni, copy of which was made available on line urged the HRC “to simultaneously hold a special session on the non-compliance by the Nigerian government with its obligations in relation to the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights; and to consider this petition under the HRC new complaint procedure established pursuant to resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006”.

Similarly, a youth group under the aegis of Amalgamated Northern Political Forum and the South Elements Progressive Union, have warned that “Nigeria risks losing its democratic gains of the past years if the country continues to function without a president.”

The group, through their national chairman, Mr. John Yahaya and Joseph Ambakederimo, respectively insisted that those speaking against the president’s continued refusal to follow constitutional process since leaving the country about 42 days ago, should not be seen as hating the president.

The Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, the Action Congress and some prominent lawyers had opposed the legality of Yar’Adua’s signing of the Supplementary Budget in Saudi Arabia.

However, as Yar’Adua continues to stay in Saudi Arabia for medical treatment, his sudden departure “without formally handing over” political analysts say, “will continue to generate controversy among Nigerians, due to the obvious vacuum his absence has created in the act of governing the country at this critical period.”

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Yakassai Wants North To Cede Presidency In 2023

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An elder statesman, Tanko Yakassai, has said it will be unjust for Northern Nigeria to still demand the presidency in 2023.
The Tide source reports that there have been heated debates among stakeholders in the nation’s polity over power rotation between the North and the South ahead of the 2023 general elections.
At the moment, prominent northerners like the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, former Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal; and a former Senate President, Bukola Saraki appear to be interested in the 2023 presidency.
But Yakassai in reaction to the declaration of interest by some Northerners said while he is not a card-carrying member of any political party, it would be an injustice to the South for northerners to aspire for the presidency after the expiration of the tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.
He said, “How can it be that it is always us the Northerners that will rule? There is no justice in this matter, we rule, they (South) rule, that is justice.”
“I am wondering what the northerners will say to the people? What will they show to the citizens of Nigeria that they benefited or will benefit in order for them to give their votes?
“In the six to seven years, what have the northerners done? What achievement has the leadership accomplished that helped in the development of the country, its economy or any other development that helps the people?
“What major achievement do the northerners have that they can use to call upon all other Nigerians to give them votes again?”
The elder statesman said his interest in politics from the beginning had always been about justice, explaining that his support for President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, was to make sure Nigeria went with the method of letting any president run his second tenure after his first; just like he said earlier.
He said that if the first four years of the tenure were not enough for the president to accomplish his goals, then eight years would be enough for him as long as he had the plan on how to accomplish them.

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Pastor Rejects Ortom’s Car Gift

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Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has recounted how Rev Samuel Alaha, who anointed him in 1992 with a prophecy that he would become governor of the state, rejected a car gift from him after the prophecy came to pass in 2015.
The governor, who made the disclosure, Sunday, during a sermon as the guest preacher at Faithway Gospel Ministries, Gboko, explained that he visited the cleric and presented the new car in appreciation but the vehicle was returned after a few days.
According to Ortom, even though Rev Alaha received the gift on the spot, he called after a few days to inform the governor that he appreciated the offer but begged to return it, saying he did not find it necessary.
Governor Ortom described the clergyman as a committed and true man of God whom he had known since 1980, lauding his zeal and commitment in service to the Almighty God.
Ortom pointed out that as Governor, he was determined to execute God’s counsel to people of the state at all times.
He admonished the congregation to seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness and assured that “all other things will be added on to you.”
Governor Ortom also called on Christians to go back to the time when there was love towards one another “as it used to be in the past when we became Christians. True brotherly love is lacking today, that is why there seems to be conflict all the time.”
Touching on the unity in the family, the governor told couples to begin to show love towards one another to celebrate accommodation, tolerance and faith in God.

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Ogun: PDP’ll Produce Next Gov – Ayu

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The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Iyorchia Ayu, has declared that the PDP would produce the next governor of Ogun State in 2023.
Ayu said considering the record, which according to him, shows that the PDP had produced the first PDP president in 1999, who hails from Ogun State, the state remains a PDP state.
Ayu said, this last Saturday while addressing a large crowd of PDP members at the party secretariat in Abeokuta.
Ayu, who was flanked by members of the national working committee, former governors, the leader of Ogun PDP, Oladipupo Adebutu, the State Chairman, Sikirullahi Ogundele, among others told the state Governor, Dapo Abiodun and the All Progressives Congress to prepare to leave the government for the PDP in 2023.
The chairman said the APC governments both at the federal and the states had made lives difficult for Nigerians, adding that it was time to vote the party out of power.
Ayu, who earlier held a private meeting with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, said he would be returning to Ogun to mobilise PDP members across all levels, as part of efforts to unseat the APC in 2023.
He said, “I only came to greet my boss and our father, President Obasanjo. I didn’t know that all my people are here. I will come back to mobilise the people of Ogun State in every ward, in every local government because in 2023 we shall produce a PDP governor in Ogun State after which we shall produce a PDP president who will make things better for you.”
In his remarks, Adebutu, who is a PDP governorship aspirant, reiterated his commitment to the development of Ogun State.
He said, “I am sacrificing my comfort for you, not because I need something to eat but I want to create a better tomorrow for you. I will continue to sacrifice for you and I bring to you this sacrifice and this solution. Let us be together. Do you agree with me?”

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